Zachary Lazar talks to Mary Jo Bang about her radical translation of Dante’s Inferno: in an attempt to render the shock Dante caused by writing in conversational Italian rather than the conventional Latin, Bang translated Dante’s text in modern-day English adorned with references to American pop culture. A sample of the text is available online.
“What did Shakespeare’s English sound like to Shakespeare?” A father and son team are working to answer this question, recover Shakespeare’s original pronunciation and perform his plays in the new-old style, and lest this sound like a silly exercise in scholarship consider that “two-thirds of Shakespeare’s sonnets…. have rhymes that only work in [Old Pronunciation].”
Out this week: Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock; Our Young Man by Edmund White; Now and Again by Charlotte Rogan; Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings by Stephen O’Connor; and The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
How do we map our experiences? Where You Are (our review) attempts to answer this but ends up raising an interesting relationship between print and online story space. At Music & Literature, Reif Larsen traces the history of interactive books and contemplates the future of online story space. “Considering print books have been around for over five hundred years, online publishing is still in its infancy. Much of the map remains blank.” Pair with: Larsen’s essay on the power of the infographic.
Our own Lydia Kiesling writes for The New Yorker about workplace fiction by women. As she puts it, “If the author is a woman, workplace fiction is also domestic fiction, easily disguised as ‘chick lit,’ ‘girlfriend literature,’ or even ‘erotica.’ Regardless of the packaging, these books provide mapping, contextualizing, and rich illustration of women’s working lives.” For more of her writing, check out her essay on the San Francisco housing market for The Millions.
It’s funny and fitting that Madame Proust, in a letter now on display at the Morgan Library, implored her son to share persnickety details about what time he got up in the morning. Another thing the exhibition, which celebrates the hundredth anniversary of Swann’s Way, reveals: early drafts of the book used “biscottes” in place of “madeleine.”
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert — inspired by the release of two new biographies — that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”